By Gerri Miller, Staff Writer
It started out as a regular school day for Kaiden Bozeman. He brought a book to read on the school bus to help pass the time. What happened next turned the day into a nightmare for the eight-year-old who would be left to fend for himself, family told the Elmore/Autauga News.
Kaiden explained that another boy on the bus started making cruel remarks about his mother. “I love my mother and it hurt me to hear those things,” he said. He said asked the other boy how he would feel if he talked about his mother. Kaiden’s 11-year-old sister Kaleigha Bozeman, who also rides the bus, said the two boys were not talking loudly and they never touched one another.
Kaiden is not a child who gets into trouble at school for misbehavior, the family said. He is an honor roll student who is polite and thoughtful, according to his mother Tonya Tucker.
However, the verbal back and forth, was enough to anger the Autauga County school bus driver, who told reportedly told Kaiden he couldn’t ride the bus and left him at a bus stop without any adult supervision. The other boy involved in the verbal altercation was not removed from the bus, according to the family.
Kaleigha said she told the bus driver that her mother had already left for work and that there would be no one home to take care of Kaiden. He kicked Kaiden off the bus anyway.
Kaiden said he walked home from his bus stop to find no one was there. “I just stood on my porch crying,” he said. A neighbor spotted Kaiden on his front porch and called his mother to let her know he was there.
“I couldn’t believe he (the bus driver) did this to my son,” said Tucker. “This was not some substitute driver- he has been our bus driver for seven years. He knows me. I’m up there every morning waiting for the bus with my kids and I put them on the bus. He knows my kids.
“I’m upset because these are people we are supposed to trust to get our kids to and from school,” she said. “He just abandoned my child and if that had been me DHR would’ve taken my son in their custody and put me in jail.”
Police are investigating the incident, which occurred at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 5. Tucker said she signed a warrant for misdemeanor charges of contributing to the dependency of a child against the bus driver Friday morning.
She said her son was terrified to ride the bus following the incident and the same person was driving the bus for the next two days. On Friday, she said there was a new driver.
“Kaiden felt better Friday with the different driver and got on the bus,” she said. “He had been scared to get on the bus with the other driver driving.”
The incident on Summerhill Road, according to a report filed with the Prattville Police Department.
Tucker said she contacted the Autauga County Board of Education on Tuesday and was told the policy was for the driver to interrupt their route and take the child to their school to let school officials handle any problems, then the driver was to resume their route.
Superintendent Spence Agee said the school system is also looking into the matter. He said he cannot comment further as school board policy does not allow him to comment on personnel matters. “We will conduct an investigation, and we will cooperate with any police investigation,” he said. “Once our investigation is complete the findings will be presented to the board and the board will determine what if any action is necessary.”
The issue has created a fire storm of comments on the internet, with people taking both sides on the issue.
“There is no excuse for a child to be left on the side of the road. Period. I don’t care how bad his behavior is. He is still just a child,” said Meagan McNeil.
“When kids got in trouble on our bus, they had to sit behind the driver the rest of the way and were taken to the principal’s office when we got there,” said April McCravy Cooper.
Tucker said she is not considering filing a lawsuit in the matter. “I don’t want anything out of this. I just want our kids to be safe,” she said.
This is an ongoing investigation and we will update our story as more information becomes available.